Posts Tagged 'child abuse'

Walking On Eggshells

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I spent most of my life after my sisters were born walking on eggshells around my mother.  I never knew what was going to set her off.  Though most of the time it didn’t involve me doing anything. 

I was always afraid.  Afraid of the explosion.  Going from quiet monster to raging bull running down Spanish streets.  And I was always in the way no matter where I hid. Rage, rage.  Screaming and yelling.  I could always hear her, no matter what.  The venom dripping.  The insults, the put downs, the damning me to hell.  Nothing calmed this beast because she loved to rage in her power.

So I was always afraid.  Terrified of setting her off.  Never knowing the trigger or location of the trap.  My sisters never had to worry about the raging bull.  She might raise her voice at them but apologize and then point the finger at me and then the bombardment would begin.  They only had to deal with upset that would soon calm down.  I was the only one who had to face rage.

I was terrorized into my fear.  And constantly abused to stay there. My mother loved to see my cowering and hiding, my shivering fear.  She fed off that fear which made her feel powerful.  She didn’t have to carry out threats, only make them.  I was that afraid and believed all too well what I thought would happen.  Threats were never carried out but I believed the lies.  They only had to be true once.

Not just the going to hell but also being arrested by police (I was still a young child) because my mother would have called them to come and get me.  Remember,  the lies were absolute truths to me.

I still live with that fear.  Still afraid of setting someone off, though not my mother so much, any more.  But afraid.  Constantly afraid, especially of failure because no one likes failure so that gives them permission to rant and rage and hit.

A Story About Ants

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Creepy. I hate these things. Sorry if this pic freaks you out. It freaks me out.

A few years ago, I had a major ant problem in my apartment. Thankfully, they were confined to a few specific areas but they caused me a lot of anxiety and stress. Nothing I did worked.  So I told the apartment manager.

What did she do?

Nothing.

She told me having ants in the apartment was part of living in an apartment and that nothing could be done.  She said it was no big deal. She wasn’t going to do anything.

I was hurt.  I felt disrespected and helpless because she did not take me seriously or care what I had to say.  

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I think the name says it all.

Eventually, she did call an exterminator to come and spray but only AFTER somebody else said something.  And I still felt that she didn’t care.  I had been dealing with the problem for a significant period of time and her ignoring my request for help told me my voice and concerns did not matter.

So now, any time I see ants in my apartment I feel those feelings again.  Thankfully, it is just a few and they go away after a shirt few days.  But I still get stressed out seeing them.  I don’t hate ants but their presence reminds me of not being heard, about not being taken seriously, about having my voice silenced because it wasn’t something she wanted to hear.

That particular apartment manager was a major problem and I suffered stress, anxiety, and threats from her.  She even threatened to evict me if I didn’t quit my job and find another.  Trust me, the situation was bad and she had no legal right to do anything to me.

Thankfully that manager and that set of problem neighbors are gone.

So I have a much better apartment manager now and the neighbors still coukd be better.  But I’m still leery of asking for them to come and deal with anything.  I do my best to keep my head down and be quiet.  It may not make me any friends but I feel safer, if only marginally.

I won’t get hurt.

Why write about this? Simple. 

A victim telling their story about abuse and being heard and believed is important.  Too many people want to silence the voices of victims because it is not what they want to hear.  By silencing victims’ voices, the abusers are given tacit approval for their actions and acceptance and it implies that somehow the victim is at fault.  Silencing minimizes the effects of abuse and how dangerous and harmful abuse really is.

Silence says abuse is okay.  It says the victim is a liar and making things up.  It denies reality.  These are lies.

Victims need to be able to feel safe, to be able to tell their story in their own way and time, to be believed and taken seriously, and to have support and healing.  Victims are people, too.

Liars, Thieves, and Cheaters

I’m done with Josh Duggar.

But I’m not done with talking about how abusers affect their victims.

They are liars.  They lie about the fact that they molest children, hit children, yell and scream and threaten children. They lie about hitting women, raping women, threatening women, isolating women.  They lie about hitting men, raping men, threatening men, isolating men. They lie to their victims about how the abuse is not abuse, that it is okay, that it is their fault, that if they tell something very bad will happen.  They lie to the victim’s family and friends about how they are really a good person, about how safe the victim is with them, about how the victim started it, about what they are doing isn’t wrong because other people do the same thing, about how the victim brought it on themselves, about how they doing this because they love the victim and that it is in their best interest.

They are thieves.  They steal the victim’s innocence, stability, security, mental health, safety, trust, judgement, physical health, sexual health, self worth, dignity.  They steal their voice. And they throw their stolen goods away.

They are cheaters.  Many cheat the criminal justice system out of justice by never facing arrest, trial, conviction, and prison.  They all cheat their victims out of a life free of abuse.  They cheat their victims of healing and closure when they do not face the criminal justice system.  They cheat their victims out of telling their story and being believed by the lies they have spread and their appearance of being a “good” person who could not possibly done the things they did.

So abusers are liars, thieves, and cheaters. They are abusers.

“But He Said He Was Sorry”

So?

Yes, I’m still talking about Josh Duggar.  But I want to talk about apology and his victims, two things that haven’t received the attention they should.

In regards to apology, there is a good book On Apology by Paul Lazare that covers the parts of an apology and why those parts are necessary for an effective apology.  While don’t agree with everything he wrote (and the book was a bit triggering for me), I think understanding that an apology involves more than just saying sorry.  It involves naming the offense one is apologizing for, acknowledging the hurt caused by the offense, and offering some sort of reparation/restitution to the victim. I think there is another part but it has been a few months since I read the book. Josh Duggar did not really acknowledge the hurt he caused the victims and focused on the hurt he caused himself.  His apology is almost meaningless.

But he apologized! So we have to forgive.

Actually, no.  I do not have to forgive him.  Too many Christians believe and teach that forgiveness is mandatory no matter the offense.  And that if the offender apologizes, says they are sorry, the offended must forgive and move on.  Forgiveness is not accepting an apology.  It is not allowing the other person to hurt me again all in the name of Jesus.  It is not about godly behavior.

Forgiveness is about letting go of the hurt and pain the victim suffered and moving on.  An apology may be involved or it may not.  But it does not involve allowing bad behavior or crimes to continue or to go unpunished by secular authorities.  A victim chooses to forgive or not to forgive.  Being forced to forgive makes that forgiveness meaningless.  Repentence and a true change of heart is also important and must be involved.

So I do not have to forgive Josh Duggar and neither do his victims.  They can demand to see a true change of behavior and real repentence before they can choose to forgive.  They can also refuse to continue to have contact with him. 

Christians unfortunately confuse forgiveness with reconciliation which are two different things.  I’ve already discussed forgiveness.  Reconciliation is about the relationship and repairing that relationship after hurt and damage has been caused.  We all should encourage reconciling ourselves with God after we sin.  However, we are not required to reconcile with those that will continue to hurt us even if we have forgiven them. 

There is a good article here and here
by Jimmy Akin, a Catholic apologist that covers forgiveness and reconciliation. And no, forgiveness is not mandatory especially to some one is unrepentant or does not ask to be forgiven.

We have several young girls who were victimized sexually by a brother and then forced to forgive their brother. They were most likely blamed for their molestation (using Gothard material; just visit http://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com for posts on this) and given little support or room to heal.  It was all then swept under the rug to protect Josh and probably Jim Bob as well.  The victims did not matter.  Only Josh matters because he is a man.

These girls who are victims are being further victimized by those who excuse what Josh has done and ignore their pain and suffering.  Their voices are not being heard.  Rather, their voices have been silenced, their pain unrecognized, and their victimhood belittled.  They are not even recognized as victims.  Josh is considered the victim, not the actual victims who have to live in shame and silence perpetrated by their own parents, their abuser, and many Christians. 

These girls need help and have been and are still being denied help all in the name of “forgiveness” and being good Christians.  Very few are talking about their suffering and what it means for them and how they have been hurt.  They need to be allowed to express their feelings and to tell their story.  Their story is theirs and they need to be able to tell it without condemnation or judgements or forced to forgive.  Their voices need to be heard.

Unfortunately, the cultic system these girls live in does not allow girls or women to have voices or to even acknowledge that they have been hurt and abused in any way.  So further victimization.  These girls need our help and support, not our judgements or false expectations of godly or biblical behavior.  I believe those girls and one day they will tell their stories and I will listen.

Modesty, Quiverfull, Bill Gothard, and Josh Duggar

Yes, all these things go together.

Update: The police report where much of the information I refer to was taken by a state trooper who is now serving time for child pornography. While that does not lessen the severity of the crime or the validity of the report, it does show that the Duggars operate in environment of avoidance and ignorance. They knew better but still chose to cover up and punish the victims rather than truly help Josh and the victims.

This post is to show how Josh Duggar could commit the crimes he did and get away with it while never truly taking responsibility. The one factor that I don’t touch on is the possible sexual abuse of Josh while it would be an influence he still made the choice to molest.

Josh Duggar grew up in an environment where girls are blamed for men’s sins. He learned from a young age that he did not have to take any real responsibility for his actions, behaviors, or words.  He just had to point the finger at someone else and women were the best target.

Clothing modesty is only expected of women so that even a boy’s sister could be guilty of seducing her brother by the way she dressed.  Even girls as young as five are expected to dress in a manner that does not bring attention to their bodies and the fact that they have female bodies.

Quiverfull and Patriarchy go hand in hand.  Josh Duggar learned that he had rights and demands over women, even over his own sisters all because he is male.  If he falters, he has every right to blame the females in his life for causing  him to sin.  He can point the finger at any female and say that they dressed too proactively or they acted in a seductive manner, etc. and these women have to accept the blame and internalize it.  They are the ones that have to pay the price, not Josh Duggar, not in Patriarchy/Quiverfull.  They know better while he does not, being so weak.

Bill Gothard taught the boys and men who used his homeschooling material, who attended his Institutes, that men have rights while girls do not.  And yes, he infantilizes women.  But then he has also sexually molested girls at his campus for years while also allowing his own brother to do the same with impunity.  Just read http://recoveringgrace.org.  The stories there tell it all.

I am not apologizing for Josh Duggar.  I am pointing out that he was raised in an abusive environment that allowed him to abuse and get away with it, police report and “counseling” notwithstanding.  He learned no boundaries and responsibilities.  He did not learn right from wrong, not really.  He only quit because he got caught not because he was committing a crime against vulnerable girls.  And he is still thinking only of himself.

The girls he molested (and normally I would use allegedly because he had not been convicted or adjuticated in a court of law but the police report is useful here to make my point) have been forgotten. Actually, they were probably bullied into silence after being forced to forgive Josh and told that it was their fault that it happened.  They may have received “Gothard counseling” which isn’t counseling at all but gaslighting and severe pressure to conform to a system.  These girls were further victimized and are still being victimized because they cannot talk about it.  They have been turned into the perpetrators and Josh as the victim by their own family, by Bill Gothard, by Patriarchy/Quiverfull, by purity and modesty culture, by Josh, by those that accept the lies the Duggar family propogate through their lifestyle and TV show.

In the end, all these things: modesty, Quiverfull, Patriarchy, and Bill Gothard teach that women do not have bodies.  And if they do not have bodies then they are not real people. And if they are not real people then all sorts of abuse and violence can committed against and upon them without the perpetrators suffering any kind of consequence.

I hope that one day these girls realize they were the true victims in all this, that they get the help they need, and that they find the strength and courage to tell their story.  And to leave the world of abuse they live in.

Quiverfull and Childhood

Part Three

Warning: I will be talking about various types of abuse in this post and have inserted photos where appropriate.  Be advised.

This post builds off the discussion from Part Two.  I mentioned previously that many girls are forced to raise their younger siblings because their mothers just don’t parent.  Or in the case of Michele Duggar, passes the responsibility of parenting to a daughter so that she can keep having babies.

Since Quiverfull is focused on babies and numbers, children as individuals with needs are in an odd phase.  They aren’t babies and they aren’t married adults.  These two phases are the only ones that matter in Quiverfull.  That’s where the priorities are focused. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are then ignored until they get noticed.  The phase of childhood itself is ignored until someone notices a child acting (as in any sort of movement, not just bad or irresponsible behavior) or speaking.  The phase of childhood is considered a messy wasteland to be conquered by the parents rather than enjoyed as a season of human life. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

First, children are just numbers, not actual individuals with wants and needs and desires. They are soldiers in a battles against the secular world.

Two, children are considered property of their parents.  The parents have rights.  The children do not.  The children are merely objects to manipulate.

Three, children are seen as inherently sin filled and willingly disobedient.  Children are only capable of sin and incapable of virtue. 

Four, children must be homeschooled because any other sort of schooling is un-biblical, full of dangerous anti-Christian agendas, and a means of government interference.

Fifth, children rarely receive medical assistance in any form.due to paranoia about the government and beliefs that any healing is God’s will and can only happen if He desires it.

While there are more, these are a good starting place.

Point One: Children are individuals but not in Quiverfull.  Quiverfull is a movement that emphasizes numbers of people and not actual people.  Add in the distaste for childhood as a phase of life and things get a lot worse.

Points Two and Three go together.   When children are not seen as people, they have no rights or protections.  They are also open to great abuses, neglect, violence, and even homicide.  Since many parents come to believe that corporal punishment and spanking are acceptable means of forcing a child to comply with their demands, many children are physically abused in the name of love and God.  Many use verses out of the Book of Proverbs to justify their spanking.  They also read and endorse abusive parenting methods like Michael Pearl’s To Train Up A Child (which compares training children to training animals and to start spanking at three months), James Dobson (again comparing children to dogs), Rev Bradley, and Shepherd a Child’s Heart.

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Courtesy of Google Images

There is no biblical basis for beating the sin out of children so that they become God fearing adults.  But it is a belief espoused in Pearl’s and heavily hinted at in Gothard’s work (though I don’t know if he advocated corporal punishment). 

Pearl advocated “first time obedience” and demands it of babies.  “First time obedience” is the expectation that when an adult tells a child to do something that child must obey immediately.  Any hesitation, finishing a task already started, or asking for directions on how to do that something is seen as disobedience and must be punished immediately. 

For example: a thirteen month old baby is sitting on the floor, playing with a toy.  He puts the toy in his mouth (babies like to put things in their mouth; this is normal).  The mother sees this and tells the baby to take the toy out of his mouth.  The baby keeps the toy in his mouth because he doesn’t really understand what his mother is saying.  However, Pearl says the child is actively choosing to be disobedient and therefore needs to be spanked right this minute.

But first time obedience is expected of all children.  And being disobedient or even “rebellious” (a vague term that parents use to justify any spanking or to justify their anger and their desire to hit a child). Spanking then becomes the default method of parenting instead of teaching the child why let alone understanding child development in any way.

Children in Quiverfull face lots of violence, abuse, neglect, and are forced to behave in developmentally inappropriate ways. 

Teenage girls are expected to parent their younger siblings. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Many children face the threat of corporal punishment which I’ve expanded to include not just spanking but any use of hitting as punishment which includes slapping, punching, using some type of implement. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Many children are verbally abused through threats of corporal punishment regardless if those threats are carried out, through name calling, through insults, and through intimidation. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are sexually abused not just through molestation and rape but also abused through body shaming, purity culture, and dress codes. 

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Courtesy of Google Images

Children are psychologically abused when parents threaten them, manipulate situations so that a child fails expectations,  play mind games, and through gaslighting.

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Children are spiritually abused because they are raised to follow an extreme belief system, are threatened with an angry, vengeful God that is out to get them and can’t wait to see them fail, and through the use of illegal and immoral tactics that are justified by the use of scripture verses.

Children are educationally neglected through the use of homeschooling.  Many parents use homeschooling as a means of isolating their children from others so that the parents not only do not have to teach their children a standard education but so that many parents can abuse their children and not have others know about the abuse.  Many children who receive a homeschooling education are usually very deficient in many subject.  Some children are not allowed to finish or even graduate high school.  This is especially true for girls.

Children in Quiverfull are medically neglected.  Many children are born at home.  If there is a midwife involved, she may be unlicensed. Licensing and training depends on state statute so many midwives are trained and licensed.  But there are those midwives and other medical practitioners who choose to operate outside the medical establishment. And with a heavy distrust of the government, many followers of Quiverfull will actively seek out medical assistance that is not regulated by any government agency.   Vaccines are seen as government intrusion so many parents refuse to vaccinate their children.  Or beliefs false information about vaccines.  Many children rarely see a doctor. Reasons include: lack of parental finances; government intrusion; doctors are typically mandatory reporters of abuse (depends on state law); belief that sickness is merely uncompressed sin and so the child needs to repent and get right with God; the belief that any sickness can be cured by prayer.

Children raised in Quiverfull suffer the most and are given the least amount of help and support.  They may live in an unhealthy home due to abuse, neglect, inadequate shelter, inadequate food, inadequate clothing, and inadequate resources and support. 
These children are victims.  They spend many of their adult years healing from the abuse they suffered, correcting their education deficits, and shedding false and dangerous beliefs and behaviors.

Quiverfull and Motherhood

I love it when people post comments because they end up helping me think more on a topic I’ve posted about.  I only scratched the surface in my last post on Quiverfull and I consider that one as providing the background and context for future discussions of Quiverfull.  Or to put it simply: Part One.

So this is Part Two.

I received a comment on the previous post and my response included issues that I hasn’t covered in that post. I felt another post was necessary. I am going to use the Duggars as my example here, largely due to the fact that people are familiar with Jim and Michele Duggar and their 19 children as a result of their following Quiverfull beliefs.  Though people many not know that the Duggars are Quiverfull, Gothard followers, follow Patriarchy (which is another damaging belief system that basically comes down to men are superior and women are inferior so they need men to rule and protect them using Ephesians 5:22 as justification), use courtship instead of dating, homeschool using Gothard’s material, and home church.

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Photo courtesy of US Weekly (because that was the only photo I could download and not have it end up opposite of what I wanted)

Michele Duggar likes to be pregnant and has said so in interviews.  Pregnancy is about her and her status as a child bearer.  For her, being pregnant makes her feel good.  Being pregnant keeps her in the spotlight and actually attracted the spotlight in the first place.  She is famous for giving birth to 19 children.

Pay attention to that last sentence.  There are two important words that highly illustrate the mentality of Quiverfull: giving birth.  That’s it.  These women get pregnant and give birth and then their job as mother is done.  Michele nurses and cares for a baby for the first six months of it’s life and then hands it off to a daughter to raise from there on out.  And then Michele gets pregnant again and the cycle starts all over. 

To Michele and many other women who follow Quiverfull beliefs, the mother only has to get pregnant and give birth, maybe take care of the baby for a few months or a year before an older siblings, almost always a daughter, is drafted into motherhood to raise her sibling.  Michele only gives birth.  She doesn’t nurture or raise this new child in any way except maybe homeschooling, at least nothing beyond those first six months.  Michele likes babies but her actions say that she doesn’t much care for children beyond how they make her appear to others.  And in Quiverfull, appearances matter.

Many women behave in the same way.  They get pregnant, give birth, and at some point an older daughter is drafted into motherhood to raise their younger siblings. Remember, Quiverfull emphasizes having as many babies as possible.  And the focus is on babies. 

Children are seen as a rebelling, disobedient, demon possessed spawn of satan stage between baby and marriage.  Childhood and adolescence don’t exist or are ignored.  

For many Quiverfull women, having children is a selfish act, not a selfless one. 

The Catholic Church teaches that marital sex is for two intertwined purposes: unity and procreation.  Or more colloquially: bonding and babies. 

You can’t divorce one from the other.  Marital sex cannot be just for pleasure and it cannot be just for babies.  By making marital sex about sex or babies, you make marital sex a selfish act where one spouse uses the other for their own gratification.  That’s not healthy marital sex.  Marital sex that embraces both bonding and babies is selfless because it becomes an act of complete self-giving to each other.  Marital sex is intimately vulnerable self-giving.  Your spouse becomes more important than you.

In Quiverfull, it’s all about the babies.  The mothers are treated as if they are broodmares.  Many mothers treat themselves this way which is truly horrific.  Babies and children become a commodity, not individuals made in the image and likeness of God who need a mother and father to nurture and love them and disciple them into adulthood.  Quiverfull is all about numbers not people.

So the child bearers abdicate mothering their children, at least after a daughter is considered old enough to be thrust into raising her siblings.  It’s justified as practice for raising her own children in the future. 

Michele gives birth to Baby.  She nurses Baby for six months before she picks Sister to raise Baby.  Sister in now Baby’s mother and will do all the diaper changing, potty training, getting dressed and fed, putting Baby to bed, teaching how to Baby how to tie his shoes, comforts Baby after a bad dream or a fight, teaches Baby to read and write, teaches Baby not to write on walls and how to get along with others, disciplines and corrects Baby, and how to play. 

A thirteen year old girl is now a mother to her baby brother.  And many times she is also mother to a toddler, a five year old, a six year old, and an eight year old while also having to clean most of the house, cook for ten people, complete her own homeschooling work on top of teaching a few of her younger siblings while also making sure she dressed in a pure and modest manner, read and memorize passages of the Bible, and obeying her parents while trying to avoid being spanked and/or other punishments for real or imagined infractions.

Quiverfull not only damages adults but also children, especially the girls thrust into adult parenting responsibilities that they should not be forced into.  A thirteen year old girl is expected to behave as an adult but gets punished as a child.  She rarely gets to have friends outside her siblings and what few friends she may have are chosen by her parents as long as they believe and act the way the parents want.

So Quiverfull:
-Emphasizes huge families
-Family planning is forbidden for any reason (health, finances, ability to care for other children)
-Women are expected to give birth to as many children as possible and their health doesn’t matter
-Babies are seen as a commodity
-Children are forced into parental roles to keep the cycle of permanent pregnancy going
-Women are only valued for their ability to get pregnant and give birth, not to be an actual mother
-Girls are expected to follow in their mothers footsteps by getting married and having large families after first having raised many of their own siblings
-Quiverfull is justified through the misinterpretation of Scripture verses


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